After a successful performance last night against a team on the second half of a back-to-back, the Indiana Pacers fell victim to the same circumstances Boston struggled with, getting run out of the arena by the Orlando Magic. It was a bit of a surprising result in that regard given Indiana’s reasonable second night success (6-4), but between foul trouble, injuries, and ejections, the effort and execution weren’t at a high enough level to lift them past their shortcomings.
The Pacers actually looked to be in control from the jump. Oshae Brissett and Jalen Smith followed up their excellent games against Boston with a pair of threes to give the Pacers an early lead. Goga Bitadze would cap off the fifth three of the opening six minutes for the Pacers, extending the advantage out to eight at 19-11.
Orlando stepped up their game with an 8-0 run to tie the game, but the three point shooting for Indiana was enough to keep them ahead after one. Buddy Hield and Duane Washington Jr. found their own shot midway through the second, leading the way in a 10-0 Indiana run that gave them their game high 49-38 lead midway through the quarter.
At that point, however, Orlando’s defense began to pick up and Indiana’s struggles in protecting the rim due to immediate foul trouble from Isaiah Jackson quickly flipped the game in Orlando’s favor. The Pacers managed to maintain their one point lead at the break, but the 17-7 Magic run to close the half was far from over.
Fouls, frustration, and more fouls began to boil over for the Pacers to start the second half. With both teams quickly getting into the penalty (including the third and fourth fouls by Jackson), the Magic began to knock down their own three point shot, outscoring Indiana 23-8 to open the third.
In the midst of that run, Smith took offense to an offensive foul against him, picking up a technical and at the behest of his teammates, continued to let the officials know his feelings, drawing the second technical. Though Smith had begun to struggle as the game progressed, his ejection put a terrible strain on Indiana’s front court, allowing the Magic to take full control, pushing their lead out to 15 to end the third, outscoring the Pacers 35-19.
As Hield and Jackson began to score early in the fourth to keep Indiana’s night going, Gary Harris and the Magic opened up from three, hitting five in the quarter to perpetually keep the Pacers well in the rearview to finish off the 16-point victory.
No surprise the biggest difference in the game came from Indiana’s inability to hold onto the ball. The Pacers had 22 turnovers tonight, getting outscored 22-5 in points off turnovers. After a quick start, Indiana’s offense became a mess. Though they did a better job limiting Orlando inside in the second half, they still allowed 54 points in the paint, scoring just 28 themselves.
Tyrese Haliburton led the way for the Pacers with 23, playing reasonably well with three threes, a 6-6 night at the line, and seven assists, it was his worst showing in terms of ball control, committing six turnovers. Orlando’s defense bothered Haliburton and Hield especially, with Hield unable to get free for more than a trio of threes himself, scoring 18 with six assists.
Beyond the ejection, Smith’s night just got progressively worse as it went on. With the Pacers leading 49-38, he had 13 points with three threes. Afterwards, just one point, committing three turnovers. Brissett meanwhile hit his opening three, but blanked afterwards, missing his three attempts to finish with just six points. All six of Jackson’s points came in the fourth after logging six minutes through the first three quarters.
Malcolm Brogdon (rest) and Lance Stephenson (ankle) both sat out tonight, which along with the issues up front, really made Rick Carlisle’s rotations an adventure. Keifer Sykes picked up early backup point guard minutes, but struggled, going scoreless on 0-4 shooting with one assist. Chris Duarte had seven, but had his night cut short with his toe injury.
Terry Taylor stepped in with a solid seven points, five rebounds, and three assists, but it was a welcome night for both Bitadze and Washington, each scoring in double figures with 11. Both hit a pair of threes, with Bitadze going 4-5 with three rebounds, two assists, and two blocks while Washington went 4-10 overall with a steal.
The only good news to come out of this performance is that they’ll get to do it all over again. The Pacers will remain in Orlando to face the Magic on Wednesday, allowing them to hopefully sort out of some of their lackluster play tonight in hopes of ending their five game road losing streak.